As we come to the end of our Spotlight on Toka Leya campaign, we wanted to share some of the WOW safari wildlife sightings our guides have witnessed during their time at Toka Leya.
Donald Lisama is the quintessential river guide and the perfect boat captain on your sunset cruise.
The Zambezi River has provided a world of excitement and adventure for me for the past 25 years-plus as a river guide. During this time I have seen all manner of both wildlife and people benefit from this mighty source of life. It is a special river that, despite the occasional drought, always rises, to bring you the wonders of a major watercourse. Its rise and fall remains one of the phenomena that leave you breathless in high water season. From spectacular sunsets, beautiful birdlife and wow wildlife, it’s a wonder in its own right.
I have had many exciting experiences with guests while exploring it, especially while fishing. One time, I remember vividly like it was yesterday, one of my guests caught a tiger fish. The fish kept cutting the line so the guest decided to change out and use a stronger line. As he caught another one, and was reeling it in, the fish managed to break loose from the hook. As the guest pulled the line the hook caught on to a crocodile! We had to cut that line quick, and lose the hook.
Another time a guest caught a large red bellied bream, and as the guests reeled it in a big crocodile snapped onto the fish, cutting it in half and sharing the catch with the guests. A sad yet memorable incident I witnessed was when a huge crocodile caught and disappeared with a baby hippo while we were out on a sunset river cruise. The commotion that followed was something else. Many other hippos suffered from the enraged mother who kept pushing and flailing as she looked for her calf.
The crocodile is truly a stealth hunter. One day while cruising leisurely and having sundowners towards the end of our outing, the sun was setting and the river was calm and cool. We had just seen a kudu enter the river quietly without a splash or any noise and start to swim from one island towards another, as they often do. Without warning a huge crocodile appeared next to us and swam as fast as a torpedo and in seconds caught up with the kudu. One bite and down they went like nothing had happened, the beautiful flow of the Zambezi hiding everything that had just happened. For me that’s how this mysterious river runs, day after day.
Toka Leya guide Godfrey Mungala shares some of his most exciting experiences while on game drives with guests in Mosi-oa- Tunya National Park.
We always see good game in the national park, stopping for drinks at the end of the day, and watching the sun go down over the Zambezi River.
On one particular day, we parked to enjoy our sundowners and were about to leave when a big herd of about 100 elephants came through and walked past us while we sat in the vehicle. Two big bulls stared at us in the vehicle while the rest of the herd walked by browsing; one even touched the side of the vehicle, a thrilling and humbling moment.
Other exciting experiences with my guests include witnessing a python catch and suffocate an impala on a morning drive, as well as seeing a porcupine by the Old Drift in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park.
Mailos Mbewe started guiding in Zambia’s oldest and largest national park, Kafue, but can now be found exploring the shores of the Zambezi River and the productive Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park outside Livingstone, where Wilderness Safaris Toka Leya Camp is situated.
One of the most eye-catching experiences and activities for our guests in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park is the rhino walk. One of the world’s endangered species, rhino conservation and protection in the park has had its challenges, but is otherwise a success. I was fortunate on one of these walks to witness two rhino mating, an amazing experience, especially for my guests.
That same day, the morning had started with a very special sighting of a huge bull elephant swimming across the mighty Zambezi River. We had been on a sunrise boat cruise, so ending the day with rhinos mating seemed a blessing from the gods of nature.
Despite the excitement of witnessing these rare and special scenes, I have also witnessed rather sad but natural experiences, which are vital for the balance of nature, and also important for a balanced ecosystem. I witnessed an impala give birth and only moments later a troop of baboons come and snatched and ate the new born lamb. Sad as it was, it is simply the cycle of life in the wilderness.